Billboards in Milwaukee with a message about how to escape poverty were taken down after they were criticized as an “attack,” and as too simplistic a remedy, Fox 6 reported.
The four billboards had a message that read “Tired of Poverty? Finish School. Take Any Job. Get Married. Save & Invest. Give Back to Your Neighborhood,” according to pictures published by Fox 6.
Are you tired of poverty? You can…
“Finish school, get married, take ANY job, save & invest and give back to your neighborhood.”
This was the messaging atop a now-removed billboard near 38th and Villard in Milwaukee. Many people were upset about its message. pic.twitter.com/VFRVvLPxEs
— Tony Atkins (@TonyAtkinsTV) August 19, 2020
The Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), a black conservative group, sponsored the billboards, according to Washington Times. The billboards went up Tuesday but were taken down within 24 hours after reportedly not receiving “proper approvals,” the company that owns the advertising space, Clear Channel, told Fox 6. (RELATED: US Marriage Rate Drops To Lowest Level On Record In Over 150 Years)
“This ad did not receive proper approvals, lacked appropriate attribution and was promptly removed. We value our neighbors for bringing this to our attention.”
Some found the message offensive because it reductively depicted a complex issue.
“These are big issues. These are systemic issues,” Amber Flanagan Kinlow told Fox 6. “I felt like it was an attack and not the way to solve the problem.”
“There are jobs that aren’t paying living wages and saying things like ‘get married’ as if being married walks you out of poverty, or a lifeline to wealth, is completely incorrect,” she added.
Star Parker, president and founder of CURE or UrbanCURE, the group mentioned in a link on the billboard, said the messages are supposed to be inspirational.
“Critics find these billboards offensive. How can photos of attractive, intelligent young black people be offensive?” Parker said in a statement according to the Washington Times.
“Why are they not rather inspirational, role models of ambition and industry? There is no basis to object to this message or the portrait, unless the protesters are among those who find in it a threat to holding onto urban residents as a captive audience, chained in envy and resentment rather than invited to ambition and industry.”
Parker said that the message highlights truths that parents have always advised their children to follow.
“What do the billboards say? Only what mothers and fathers have long counseled their children: Finish school, get a job, get married, save and invest, and give back to your community,” she said. “These are scientific truths, moral truths, and home truths.”
According to the Brookings Institute, 75% of American adults who at least finished high school, got a full time job, and waited until age 21 to get married and have children joined the middle class, meaning they made $55,000 or more per year. Only 2% of these adults were in poverty.